“The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but the cultivation and perfection of human beings.”

Masanobu Fukuoka, The One-Straw Revolution

Busy As A Bee

Whew!  This week has been a flurry of activity.
Preparation for leaving the farm is voluminous...
which is perhaps why we don't do it very often.
I have been planting, planting, planting....
weeding, watering, mowing, packing, trimming pig hooves, running errands
and trying to fit in being a wife, mother and grammie.

All of this has left very little time for me to blog...
so today is short and sweet.
I promise you a little more meat and potatoes for tomorrow's blog...
which will be the last for a week.

My list of chores that I must tackle when we get home is getting long as well.
There are seven equines in need of clipping...
and not enough time to do this before our departure.

Thank goodness the watering fairies will take care of all my baby plants while I am away!

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So Much Catching Up To Do

I have been a little lax lately, I must confess,
 in keeping you informed.
There is always so much happening around here...
sometimes I forget to bring you up to speed.

(Tree peonies from my garden....lovely, but smell yucky.)
First of all....the chicklets.

14 out of 15 are doing great.
(I found one had passed the other night...sadly).
These 14 are growing by leaps and bounds...

and some are even able to scale great heights...the whole way up to the perching bar.

Remember the Swedish Crested Duck, Stella, that joined us two weeks ago?
Stella is doing fine.

Bella, Della, and Ella didn't stick around to find out what a good home they had,
The first night after their arrival at the pond, they all three packed their bags and
headed for parts unknown.
My only solace is in knowing that all three couldn't have been gotten by a predator
in one evening, so I have concluded that they were unsatisfied with their new arrangement,
and headed off in search of a more suitable establishment.

The garden suffered a slight set-back the past two nights as we had frost.
We kept sprinklers running, which helped... and covered some of the other plants...
and yet we lost a few peppers and tomatoes.
I will be...

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The Mother of All

It's hard to leave the moment when every moment is filled
with the sights and sounds and smells of the farm.
It's just how life flows around here and what makes this place so therapeutic.

There are places on this earth that are filled with healing, positive energy...
and this is most definitely one of those places...
especially in the Springtime!

It's hard to feel sad or anxious when you sit in cool, vibrant green grass 
and watch these gentle creatures all around you.

If I could I would bring each and every one of you out to the pasture to sit for a spell...
listening to the sounds of the mockingbird as it imitates the rest of the birds
who are singing in the woods and meadows.
You notice an obvious lack of man-made sounds...
behind the din of nature... silence.

You feel your blood pressure gently lower,
your heart rate becomes soft and regular...in no hurry to send energy to your relaxing muscles...
your lungs fill with the sweet, cool essence of fresh hay and lilac blossoms...
carried to your nose on a gentle breeze.

Your mind empties as your eyes watch soft, puffy clouds float across the vibrant blue
of a sky free from pollution.
You are surrounded by contented grazers...
happily munching...

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All The News That's Fit....

It's been a while since we have chatted, hasn't it?
We've had tons of rain in the past several days and we are soggy yet again.
I am still hobbling a little from my foot surgery.
Hubbs has been taking care of our precious friends... giving me time to heal.

Oh, how I miss being out there cleaning up the muck.
All things in due time, however.

The garden is growing nicely.
I've still got just a little bit of planting left to do
and hope to finish all of that this week.

Grass seed has germinated between the garden boxes.
And a pale, thin green carpet is starting to take the place of dirt.
I still owe you a tour... perhaps later this week, weather permitting.

This is a week of preparation for us as we leave on Friday
for a trip to Iceland.
I can hardly wait to experience this country and all of it's austere and wild beauty.
I will take you along via posts on Instagram (@beehavenacres) and Facebook.
As for the farm....
it will be well-cared-for by friends and family.
Family will stay in the house with the dogs... so all will be cared for as if we were home.

I wanted to share a video from early last week with you...
just a peek at some of the choreography needed when dealing with critters.

Every spring I...

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Down, But Never Out!

This is my present situation...

Not a bad one, huh?
Surrounded by my loves...

Although, I must admit they are not the best conversationalists!

I had a little minor foot surgery yesterday and will be spending today 
with my foot elevated.

Hence the lack of scintillating material for this blog post.
Worry not....
I'll be back tomorrow with news from all of our friends outside.
Till then, Hubbs will be holding down the fort!

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Mama Said....

....there'd be days like this,
there'd be days like this,
my Mama said....

Yesterday was one for the books.
You know the kind... where at some point you wish you had just gone back to bed
and pulled the covers over your head.

The kind where you back your John Deere tractor out of the tractor garage,
very meticulously watching the oversize mower deck attached to its middle,
so that you don't side-swipe the garage door opening....
very slowly and carefully backing up with your eyes on the mower deck...
while, unbeknownst to you the bucket on the front of the mower is about to
clip the garage door...

and you end up pulling the front corner right off the garage.
Yup, that kind of day.

And then after you call the contractor and suggest that he be hired on retainer...
because these kinds of things seem to happen all to frequently lately...
the tractor breaks down...
ending up needing a gear box rebuilt.

For about a half hour I had a full blown pity party....
complete with thoughts of selling the farm.

And then I saw this fellow.

And he let me get close and listened to my tale of woe...
without even pulling his head into his shell.
What more could you ask of a friend?
And I realized that moments like this...

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From The Garden

I am sitting here eating a plate of asparagus.
I eat asparagus every day at this time of year...
and then not again until the following spring.
There is nothing quite as delicious as fresh asparagus...
and the secret is in the preparation.
(Although, I have to admit... I love it raw as well.)

No water ever touches my asparagus.
I sauté it on top of the stove in a little EVOO, or I roast it in the oven...
that way it always has a little crunch to it and tastes heavenly fresh!
We even eat asparagus in our omelets.
If you like asparagus, consider planting some roots in your garden,
and you, too, can enjoy this once-a-year delicacy.

I never buy asparagus in the grocery store.
By the time it reaches the store, it has traveled so many miles and spent so many days
out of the soil that it looses most all of its nutritional value
as well as its sublime taste.

So.... if you can... grow your own... or at least buy local.
Your taste buds will thank you!

I have been spending every spare moment gardening lately.
It's wonderful!
There is nothing that I find quite as rewarding as growing and then harvesting my own produce.
To watch life emerge from the ground out of a tiny seed...
and then grow into a huge bio-mass...

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March, April.... May? Hey!

*tap tap* Hello? Anyone still out there?

Yes, it is I.... slinking back into this blawg after neglecting it for, well... all of 2014 so far. *Sigh*
No excuses, really... just can't seem to cram enough into each day lately, let alone post updates on here.
But that is all about to change! (Really?) Yes.
I have a rather large and growing collection of pictures from the last three months I'm just about to bust to share. With anyone. Just not today. *Insert evil laugh* I'll be posting them on Friday Farm Fotos over the next few weeks, spreading them out so it will be more exciting that way. Kinda like a cliffhanger. Or not.
I'm also going to start something new around here; I started writing in my journal again back a few months ago, and I'm thinking of sharing some of my short stories from it with you. Sometimes I just write nonsense~ well make that most of the time~ but some of them are memories from my childhood and other musings that I want to put on here if for no other reason than to put it out there for someone other than me to read.
Oh, and something else~ I'm trying to familiarize myself with all this social media stuff by posting a picture every morning on Twitter or Instagram or...

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Have Ritz.... Will Travel

Yesterday was the perfect day for adventures.
Another perfect spring day, with Hubbs home to help...
we set out to give all of our animals stimulating experiences.

With Ritz in hand, we led the sheep down to the bee yard to graze in some lush vegetation.
As long as Gracie has a halter on, she will follow me anywhere

(as long as I have Ritz treats for her).
Her girls will follow wherever she goes.

Since the pigs' favorite treats are Ritz as well,
we thought it might be fun to walk the pigs up to the goat yard to graze on their lush grass.

They followed, without a problem 

and were happy join the goats.

By noontime, they were waiting at the gate, however,
ready to come home again.

Once again with Ritz in hand I walked ahead calling them and giving treats when they reached me.

A couple of times they veered off course...

but were easily corralled again with the rustling of the pack of crackers.

On we went...

until finally reaching the safety of the pig yard.

Once the weather turns warmer, we will no longer be able to make these trips to the goat yard,
as there is no shade... and no piggy pool for cooling off.

I try to be as caring about our animals mental health as I am about their physical health.

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Easter On The Farm

I can't imagine a better backdrop for an Easter than the farm!
We had such a wonderful weekend...
so many activities both with friends and with family.

Easter Sunday was spent with a few of our "kids" and grandkids.
It was a full day of food, fun, and frolicking.
With sunny skies, warm 80 degree winds, blossoming trees and shrubs,
we spent almost the entire day playing outside.
(You might notice a change of clothing on Miss Mackenzie...
these pics were actually taken all on the same day.... we got a little messy...
which is just how we like it here on the farm!)

We hunted for eggs...

blew bubbles...

took wagon rides down the long hilly driveway...

played pirates...

visited piggies...

climbed trees....

visited horses....

rode Red...

talked to the turkeys...

relaxed on the swing...


played soccer...

and so much more.
Cousin love....just melts my heart!!

The dogs spent the day outside with us,
and even joined in on the soccer game.

It seems we have quite the defender in Annie...

We had originally thought the weekend would be a rather quiet one...
but last minute plans of the best kind filled the weekend from beginning to end.
Grandchildren add such a fun dimension to life!
They have a way of making...

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Our Easter Bunnies

Today's blog post is a short one...
'cause I'm busier than Mother Goose with a gaggle of goslings!
I have been gardening in every spare moment...
putting in 50 strawberry plants, watering, etc.
 Yesterday I installed this mailbox in the garden...

I bought an inexpensive metal mailbox and covered it with a magnetic cover...

Then I filled it with my garden gloves and most-often-used hand tools.

I can't tell you how often I have lost tools in the garden.
This should end that situation and keep me a little more organized!

The window washer came yesterday.
(I used to do my own windows, however, I have decided that I do not need to be 20 feet off the ground on a ladder any more.)
I scrubbed all the screens with a brush and detergent....
all just in time to enjoy Spring bursting forth!

And by the way,
in case you were interested....
the public baths are open once again!

Anyone in need of a little dusting off?
There's nothing like a little dust bath to keep the mites away!

Happy Easter to all of you from all of us!

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Pastoral Sunday

Sunday in the front pasture looked like this...

The horses spent the morning in the upper pasture,
so the pigs, sheep and donkeys took command of the front pasture.
(However, at the time of these photos the sheep were nowhere to be found....
they had already sought the shade of their own yard.)

You might remember last summer I was a little wary about letting the pigs and donkeys graze together without me chaperoning.
The donkeys were completely uninterested this time,
and happily grazed through the little hole in their grazing muzzles...
(lots of activity with little caloric intake.)

I sat and watched as everyone calmly wandered about.

The pigs were intent upon investigating every inch of the donkey yard.

Finding nothing of interest (translation: nothing to eat) they headed back out to the pasture.

MaryAnn plopped herself right down beside me for some belly rubbing.

It wasn't long before Moll was in the thick of things....
surveying the rest of the pasture from her piggy perch.

I was asked if the cats get up on the pigs by themselves.

Actually, I always put them there.

The pigs enjoy the attention, and the cats have become much more relaxed around them as a result.

We had an unpredicted frost...

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Garden Tales

Come....sit with me on the bench beneath the wise old tree.
We'll sit and sip a cup of tea,
and listen to his tales of old...
full of adventures, big and bold.

We must be very quiet, though, as a wee fairy sleeps beneath his craggy trunk.

Fairyland is once again awakening.
As Spring spreads her magic sparkles across the land,
the ferns begin to unfold and the moss begins to hum.
There are flowers and greenery everywhere.
It's really quite magical!

 An old rusty wagon makes the perfect container for a little fairy garden.
A trip to the woods yielded moss and ferns.
A few tiny plants and flowers complete the landscape.

In preparing the wagon, I drilled holes in the bottom,
and covered the bottom with vinyl screen to keep the soil from washing through the holes.
Then I filled it half full with compost and topped it off with potting soil.
A layer of moss provides a thick green carpet on which to add the fairy details.
Tiny rocks make a footpath. 

Between animal chores, my days are spent gardening.
I am most happy when my fingers are in the soil....
and so I am planting, planting, planting!

I can hardly wait to share the garden progress with you in the coming weeks!

(Thank you Linda for gifting me this...

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Girl Time

"Sometimes we gals just need a little "alone" time....
or a little time to chat with the girls."

"It's not that we don't adore you men...
we do!
But... an occasional "girls day" recharges our batteries.
Spending some time with our besties who "get" us...
who speak the same language."

Actually, when it comes to the turkeys,
Ethel does her own thing for the most part.
Tom and Chuck spend most of the time hanging out together...
trying to out-flex each other.
Ethel's never impressed.

These two turkey boys spend all day, every day, together and having been getting along marvelously.
In the past, when Chuck was alive (before the arrival of Fred and Ethel),
our two turkey boys would fight at this time of year....
a mating season ritual.
So far, Tom and Chuck seem to cohabit in peace.

Ethel spends most of her time with the hens or on her own...
snacking here and there,
and indulging in dust baths at the public baths.
Occasionally in the middle of the day she will head back to the turkey house to lay an egg.
She's an independent woman with her own agenda!

Yesterday I mentioned Chinese Red Noodle Beans.
If you are unfamiliar, here is a photo from last summer....

These beans are excellent climbers and produce...

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Spring Chores

It's 9 PM Tuesday evening and I've just gotten into the house.
The animals are all put to bed for the day...
the birdsongs have stopped...
the farm is silent in its repose.
It's been a long day... spent outdoors... helping the farrier, mowing, gardening, caring for the animals.
It's been the best kind of day.

I can't remember a more beautiful Spring than this year.
Everything is blossoming... every inch of the farm is oozing new life!
I found this single little soldier standing upright in the asparagus patch.

I swear it's the earliest emergence ever!
I have planted parsley amongst the asparagus this year,
as these plants make the best of friends.

Yesterday's work in the garden included the construction of this trellis.
This tunnel/trellis is made from 3 livestock panels.
 (you can find them at your local farm supply store)

In the box on the right I will plant tomatoes so that they can climb up the trellis.
In front of them... basil for companionship...
and what a yummy combination.

In the box on the left I will plant pole beans...green beans and red Chinese noodle beans.
These will also climb the trellis to the top.
By late summer we should have a lush tunnel with lots of shade for the dogs to...

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Managing Manure

Y'all heard from our Manure Manager a few weeks ago.
He announced that he was working his way towards retirement...
which he is... gradually.
Each week he is spending more and more time on the farm.

His time on the farm is full these days...
taking care of managing our berry patches and orchards...
replacing dead plants with new and nurturing them into maturity.

One job that he takes quite seriously, and scientifically,
is managing our manure!

He keeps track of the temperature of an active pile of compost...
aiming for a brief period of high temperatures to kill weed seeds,
and then a prolonged period of temperatures within the green zone...
to allow for beneficial microbes to turn the manure and organic matter 
into rich dark compost that can be used as fertilizer.

When the temperature drops below the green zone, he uses the tractor and turns the pile
to make it more active again... and back up goes the temperature.
By the time a pile is completely cured, there is no odor to it and it is rich in earthworms.

One thing I must say about my hubby is that he always gives every job his very best.
He researches and searches for the "best way" and works tirelessly to implement it.
I am a very lucky...

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My Hands Are Full

And so is my heart.
My favorite times are the days spent with Tyler and Mackenzie for sure.
There was a day when I could do everything with one child hanging on my leg
and another on my hip.
Now, however, it takes all of me to keep up with this 20 month old!
Which is why.... I have no blog post to offer today.
Just this....

All I have to show for yesterday and today is this...
(which to me is more than enough!)
Mackenzie is spending a couple of days here at Grammie and Muppy's farm.

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To Market, To Market, To Buy a Fat....

Or four.

Yes, yesterday we braved the rain and headed to the livestock auction...

to find a few new ducks for our pond.

Rather than raise a bunch of babies, we thought we should "rescue"
some that were being auctioned of for goodness knows what purpose.

Meet Stella (the Crested Swedish beauty) her Khaki Campbell back-up singers,
Bella, Della, and Ella
(if one of them ends up being a drake... his name will change to Fella!)

It took but a moment for these four to head straight into the pond...

swimming over to greet our old Cayuga/Swedish runner boys.

I won't describe the activity that ensued, as it is not "G" rated.
Suffice it to say, the ole boys have been quite lonely for female companionship.

A trip to Tractor Supply yielded the three chicks that I needed to make an even dozen.
And then, because I just couldn't control myself, I added another three...
to make an odd fifteen!

I have to admit... I have a soft spot for chicks.
Beware, dear friends... I have found that chicks are just a gateway drug.
You tell yourself that you will stop with them....
and before you know you are spiraling out of control.....
ending up with a complete farm menagerie.
(Take it from me... and be ye warned!)


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It Isn't Spring Without Chicklets!!

Last year was the only year on the farm that we didn't have chicks...
and Spring just didn't feel right.
With egg numbers dwindling (due to too many geriatric chickens)...
we felt it was time to breathe a little new life into the flock.

Meet our nine new gals, Beebee, CeeCee, DeeDee, Fifi, Gigi, Kiki, Lily, Mimi, 
and Sissi.

They are four-week-old Rhode Island Red/Black Sex Link crosses.
In a few short months they will be laying delicious brown eggs.

I am heading to Tractor Supply today to see if I can find just a few more girls to add to this batch.

It's always so much fun to watch them grow!

And speaking of growing....
the garden!
Can't wait to show you all that is coming up.
I see veggies coming out our ears in just a couple months.
We've started cutting asparagus this week....YUMMY!!

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And.... October.

*Tap tap tap*
Hello? Anyone still out there?

Thanks to those of you who have sent emails checking up on me and making sure everything was okay. I never meant to be away so long....
So much has happened since my last post; along with the usual "busyness" of summer, my aunt and uncle were involved in a very serious car accident in July. They have both recovered for the most part, but since they are in their late 70's, it was a long road for them. Hubby and I tried to help them out as much as we could, so along with taking care of their place and my Dad's yard as well as our own, summer came and went before we knew it.

In August, we had to have Daisy put down. Those of you who've read my blog for a long time will remember her story~ she was our very first sheep; a bottle lamb. One day I found her limping very badly on her back leg, not able to put any weight on it it all. I wasn't sure if it was a hoof problem, so I checked it out but didn't find anything. By the second or third day, it was clear she had either dislocated her hip or worse, it was broken. And by this time she was in so much discomfort, she had stopped eating. We had a vet come and look at her but she advised that any...

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Friday Farm Fotos: Spring chicks

It's just part of having chickens. They get old. And stop laying.
And die.
Of course, around here they always die of natural causes....
Once a hen's laying days are over on the Fraker Farm, they get put "out to pasture" so to speak. In other words, I turn them out every morning and let them spend their days roaming and foraging to their hearts content, and I figure if they become a meal for a predator at least they died happy, since most chickens think it's heaven to get to free-range at all, let alone all day long.
I usually don't keep more than 4 or 5 laying hens at a time anymore simply because I stopped selling (and giving away) eggs and the feed is too expensive to justify keeping more hens than we need to in order to have enough eggs for two people.
I bought four Red Star chicks a few years ago, after having only Rhode Island Reds as my primary layers for many years. I fell in love with these calm, beautiful girls right away. Even as chicks they were so sweet and curious... I could stick my hand down in their box and instead of freaking out like most breeds do, they would come to my hand and peck at my wedding band along with any mole or freckle they thought might need...

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Friday Farm Fotos: Plow, Plant, and Pray

Lily and Tiny share a moment at the fence.

I found a quote on the internet not too long ago in which the beautiful Audrey Hepburn once said,
 "To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow." 
I love that. 
I also know firsthand how frustrating it is to plant one day and then the weather make you lose all hope in your garden the very next day. 
Ugh. Thanks a lot, Mother Nature.

(Sorry, I'm a child of the 70's. :)

Hubby plowed our little garden spot in early March. 
Here he is at work with the sheep cheering him on in the barn behind him. 
Gotta have teamwork to make a garden.

The ground was so beautiful and dark.... thanks to some heavy doses of manure.

Hopes were high for our little garden this year! 
We planted onions, broccoli, and cabbage near the end of March.

Then it snowed.

Aaaand we had a frost. A hard one.

And our poor broccoli... eh, it didn't look so good.

The blossoms on my apple and pear trees didn't fare so well, either.
No fruit from them this year. *pout*

Hubby left the broccoli alone, and it actually came back to life after a few days of warm sunshine. 
Here he is working the rows with "Cubby".

I think everything will be alright after all this cold weather. Time will tell.
We put...

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It's about time.....

I started blogging again. I've really missed it. I've just been... hmmm... whats the word I'm looking for...
Yeah, that's it. *sigh*
Actually, I've missed YOU. I need to get caught up on all my blog friends and hope they remember me.
No point in trying to catch up on almost a years' worth of news from around the farm, so I'll just put some pictures on here.

Big Otis and his girls are on a mission to rid the world of every single June bug in existence. I'm not going to tell them that's pretty much an impossibility because watching them chase their prey across the yard at full speed is too hilarious.

The sheep are very happy to be rid of their winter sweaters. Oh, and Tiny says howdy.

It's been too hot to do anything outside for the past few weeks, so Lily and I have been spending the days inside in my sewing room. Oh, and Lily would say howdy if she wasn't so busy snoring.

Speaking of sewing, I embroidered this little t-shirt for my great-nephew, who will be turning two in November. He's heading to the beach with his mom and dad this week, so I thought the crab was appropriate. *grin*

Speaking of family, we were blessed to celebrate Father's Day a couple of weeks ago with four...

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Big Otis

All the hens are crazy 'bout that big orange rooster.
(Must be the eyebrows.....)

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For You...

An Irish Blessing

Deep peace of the running wave to you.
Deep peace of the flowing air to you.

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you.

Deep peace of the shining stars to you.

May the beauties of the earth and sky and sea fill your heart with lasting peace and contentment.

Happy St. Patty's Day from all of us leprechauns here on the farm!

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Dear Spring....Please Come Back!

We have a lot of snow.
A lot.
And I don't believe it is going anywhere for a while.
Wasn't it just 70 degrees about a week ago?

We're all doing just fine with the snow.
It makes chore time take a little longer... 
but what else are we going to do?
Our wings are clipped.

We are going nowhere for now.
It's a great time to get some concentrated knitting done.
Here's what's on the needles now....

It's an infinity scarf with four 16" segments that are each different.

Yesterday I showed you a new barn kitty.
Apparently this fellow's name is Lou.

He's a stray who has also been visiting Dr. Becky's barn.
Looks like Lou will be enjoying shared custody.

Before the snow came, I took the dogs over to the woods
to retrieve the game cameras.
Here is a series of photos that I thought were adorable...

"De-da-de-de-de... just nibbling on some tender green grass shoots."

"Oh, hello, I didn't see you at first."


"Anybody in there?"


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As predicted, the storm hit us.
It snowed and snowed and snowed.
By mid-afternoon yesterday we had 16 inches.

I will spare you the details of just how much snow removal there was to do.
Luckily our long driveway was eventually plowed by a neighbor.

The farm lanes to the barn and animals are passable, but still a little treacherous.
Getting stuck in the snow remains a potential.

When we were not out with the animals,
we spent our day relaxing by the fire.

Snowstorms are the best time to watch the birds.

There were literally hundreds visiting the feeders.

A small flock of fox sparrows sat in a nearby tree.

This was a first for us...we had never seen them here before.
There was another variety of sparrow in the center of this picture....
the one with the yellow spot next to his eye...

a white throated sparrow....also new for us.

The animals all weathered the snowstorm without incident.

The chickens, guineas and turkeys all stayed indoors for the day.
As did the goats.

And the donkeys.

The dogs spent their day doing this...

and this...

All in all it was a wonderful snowy day at home.
I'm sure this snow is going to be around for a while.

We have a new barn resident.
This kitty...

has been occupying the cat...

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Bobby's Ride

This was yesterday.

Today is a whole other story.
I am sure that while you are reading this warm and snug in your house...
I am probably outside shoveling paths for animals to walk...
from their houses to their waters, etc.

Snowfalls, though beautiful, add a whole new layer of work to the daily routine.
I can assure you, there will be a fire burning in the fireplace!

Bobby: "Just trying out a few different rides.  
Gotta figure out my transportation
situation for the next few days!"

MaryAnn seemed more than happy to oblige!

These girls will spend the next few days in their house...
as the snow may end up higher than their backs!

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